Los Angeles residents are offering new police hires a generous incentive.
Angelenos are pooling their money to offer new cops thousands of dollars in rent money as the city battles both a crime wave and a police shortage.
The program, called Housing for Hires, awards new LAPD hires huge rent subsidies of up to $24,000 over two years for housing in the Los Angeles area.
So far, the program has raised $2.2 million, enough money to fund rent subsidies for 200 new recruits, but the LAPD is hoping to more than double that number.
The money is not coming out of the LAPD budget, but from private donations to the Los Angeles Police Foundation, meaning residents are now willing to reach for their wallets to get more cops to live and work in the city.
Some landlords are also participating in the program, offering rent discounts to new cops.
“The overall goal is to have the real estate community come in and offer a discount to the recruits,” said Captain Aaron McCraney, who leads the LAPD’s Recruitment and Employment Division.
Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff came up with the idea for the rent subsidy program.
“The issue of recruitment of cops is now a national crisis for multiple reasons, and this arrow in our recruitment quiver has been invaluable for the safety of every Angeleno,” Soboroff said.
New LAPD officers receive a starting salary of about $80,000, so a $24,000 rent subsidy means they would be making upwards of six figures.
However, the cost of living in Los Angeles has increased drastically over the last few years. According to one analysis, the Los Angeles metropolitan area now has a median rent of over $2,200, up from less than $1,950 in 2019, a jump of nearly 16%.
Meanwhile, the police department has been dealing with a staffing shortage.
In August, Police Chief Michel Moore said the force was down about 176 officers and response times for urgent calls had gotten longer due to the shortage. The pool of applicants has also gotten smaller, Moore said.
“Policing is pulling from an increasingly smaller pool of interested applicants for a variety of reasons, and so we have to be better at being upfront and being a world class agency,” Moore said.
Currently, the LAPD has just under 9,300 police officers total in the department, according to McCraney.
Meanwhile, violent crime in Los Angeles has spiraled.
As of the end of July, homicides in Los Angeles County had risen 30% since 2020 to more than 200 homicides so far this year. Shooting victims were up 43% since 2020 to nearly 800 victims.
Some incidents have gone viral online, including looting sprees and groups of people taking over intersections to do donuts with their cars.
Police say a big driver of rising crime is Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s progressive policies, which tend to favor being lenient on criminals, even violent repeat offenders. Los Angeles law enforcement was particularly outraged after the murder of two California police officers by an alleged gang member who was out on probation.
Meanwhile the district attorney’s office often blames police for rising crime, saying cops are part of the problem. A recall effort against Gascon failed earlier this year.